Black History should be recognized 365 days a year, and not limited to a single month.
Black History acknowledgement is also a time for all people in Canada to reflect and educate ourselves on the history of Black enslavement, discrimination and criminalization of people of African descent, and to remember that racism still exists.
Every year CUPE honours a Black ancestor, or someone who is making history today. This year we’re honouring Nell Toussaint. Nell was a human rights defender who led a long struggle for access to health care for everyone, regardless of their immigration status. She died last year after a battle with the Canadian government to access life-saving care. Nell’s courage and determination inspire us to take up her fight for justice.
Canadian society has seen progress over the decades, but people of African descent in Canada still experience differential treatment. Black, racialized and Indigenous community members are far more likely to be the hardest hit by the pandemic and its ongoing effects. This, combined with the ongoing crisis of over-policing, has shone a spotlight on how much remains to be done.
CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy identifies actions to challenge systemic racism in our workplaces, union and communities. It acknowledges that our union and locals must work towards meaningful change for Black, Indigenous and racialized members, including those with intersecting identities.
Our union is committed to fighting racism and hatred in all forms. We encourage members not to be neutral when witnessing racism in any form. Instead, commit to not looking the other way and stand up for what is right. Here are some ways to increase awareness, understand and create change:
- Order free copies of CUPE’s 2024 Black History Month posters and bookmarks honouring Nell Toussaint
- The National Racial Justice Committee invites Black CUPE members to join them in celebrating Black History 365 days of the year by expressing pride in being Black with CUPE’s “Unapologetically Black” button and sticker.
- Ask Black people in the union, workplace and community what they need in terms of support.
- Request CUPE Union Education workshops on Challenging Racism, Intro to Human Rights and Anti-Oppression.
- Check out these ideas to help put CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy into action.
- Celebrate and promote Black History in your local.
- Take anti-Black racism complaints through the entire grievance process.
- Recognize workplace racial trauma as a health and safety issue from a psychosocial perspective.
- Bargain employment equity language to help ensure your workplace represents the diversity of your community.
- Ensure there is a Black equity representative on your bargaining committee.
- Bargain access to benefits and pension entitlements for precarious workers as well as language that requires the employer to convert part-time positions to full-time, permanent positions.